The Government is set to introduce a mandatory vaccination requirement for all care home staff this Thursday, with one in 10 employees facing the sack because they haven’t received both doses of a Covid vaccine. In addition, the General Secretary of Unison, a trade union which represents public sector workers, has called on the Government to scrap the vaccine mandate as it will “cause more harm than good”. The Times has the story.
The Government’s policy requiring all care home staff to have had two doses of the vaccine comes into force on Thursday, and the Care Quality Commission said it would take action if necessary to ensure people’s safety.
Social care experts warned that the measure was likely to exacerbate existing staff shortages, leaving people without the care they needed, and one of the biggest trade unions urged the Government to reconsider its position.
In 76 out of 151 upper-tier local authorities in England, more than 10% of staff in care homes for older adults were not fully vaccinated, according to NHS England statistics up to the end of last month.
Nationally, 89.4% of the almost 462,000 staff working in older adult care homes were double-jabbed.
The lowest rates were in Thurrock, Essex, and Manchester, where only 79.1% and 79.4% of staff were double-jabbed. The highest rates were in York, where 94.8% of staff were double-vaccinated, and Rutland, where the figure was 95.6%.
Some of those who are unvaccinated will have medical exemptions, whereas others may not have recorded their vaccination properly.
Simon Bottery, the Senior Fellow in Social Care at the King’s Fund think tank, said the sector would lose workers, with the only question being how many. The Government’s own estimate is that about 40,000 staff could leave as a result of the policy.
Bottery said: “In the last full year for which we’ve got statistics, there were over 100,000 vacancies at any one time. We also know that although the vacancies fell in the initial stages of the pandemic, they’ve since been increasing, and they’re now almost certainly higher than they were before the pandemic started.
“There’s a chronic problem with recruiting into adult social care, and that problem is becoming really acute. And the moment the sector loses a significant number of staff on top of the existing problem, then it creates really significant serious problems for the providers but also crucially for people who rely on adult social care services.”
Mike Padgham, Chairman of the Independent Care Group, who has worked in the sector for 30 years, said at the weekend that the deadline could mean up to 500 homes across England having to close their doors.
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